Cops: Passengers Had Phones Up, May Have Filmed Rape

None of the witnesses to the attack called 911
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2021 5:15 PM CDT
Updated Oct 19, 2021 3:07 PM CDT
Commuter Train Riders Do Nothing As Woman Is Raped
File photo of Market-Frankford line trains remain idle at a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) station in Upper Darby, Pa. A woman was raped Wednesday on one of the trains.   (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma, File)

Update: Police say other passengers on a SEPTA train where a woman was raped last Wednesday not only witnessed the crime, they may have filmed it. Police say some passengers pointed their smartphones at the ongoing assault. Nobody called 911, and the attack only ended when a Transit Police employee pulled the attacker off the woman, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "There were people witnessing the act with phones in their hands," SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel said at a news conference, 3CBS reports. SEPTA officials used the conference to remind riders that there are emergency call boxes on the trains, too. The man accused in the attack, Fiston Ngoy, said the sex was consensual, which is not supported by the surveillance footage. The victim says she had never seen him before and never gave him permission to touch her. Our original story from Sunday follows:

A woman was allegedly raped on a commuter train near Philadelphia, and police say there were other riders present who "should have done something," the AP reports. A person who works for SEPTA saw "something wasn’t right" and called the police, who came aboard at the next stop, arresting Fiston Ngoy, 35, and taking a woman to a nearby hospital Wednesday night. Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt said surveillance video captured the assault, and though there is no audio, it shows that passengers had the opportunity to intervene, the New York Times reports. Nobody called 911. "Who would allow something like that to take place? So it’s troubling," Bernhardt said.

Police say the suspect sat next to the woman at about 10pm and tried to touch her. She pushed him off, but eventually he assaulted her—for about 8 minutes. It’s not clear how many other people were on the train. Bernhardt said he’d heard that some of the passengers recorded the assault. "What this woman endured at the hands of this guy, what she’s been able to provide for us, it’s been unbelievable," Bernhardt said. Police say Ngoy was unarmed, and apparently homeless. Pennsylvania does not have a Good Samaritan law requiring bystanders to act when they see someone in trouble. (More Philadelphia stories.)

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